The Best Eats At This Weekend's Head Of The Charles
We talked to Post 390's Executive Chef about catering the Eliot Bridge Enclosure at the Regatta, and he's confident that this year's tent will be one of the best on the river.
The Eliot Bridge Enclosure is a hospitality tent that offers its patrons a distinctive dining experience during the annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Not only do you get prime seating for the races for the cost of admission, you get to dine on some of the finest fare in the area, provided by restaurants.
This year's tent will be catered by Post 390, a Back Bay hot spot putting a contemporary twist on the traditional tavern experience, with seasonally inspired dishes that reflect his passion for fresh ingredients and unforgettable flavors.
Post hosted the tent in 2016, and are back again for what's promising to be a beautiful weekend to be outdoors. We caught up with Executive Chef Nick Deutmeyer to talk about what it takes to cater an event like the Head of the Charles, and to find out if he's prepared for the challenge in 2017.
Craving Boston: What is the signature dish of Post 390? Will we see it during the Eliot Bridge Enclosure?
Nick Deutmeyer: We love to change the menu often, so I’m not sure we have a “signature dish” per se, but I think that the Venison Tartare with Quail Yolks really personifies what we strive for here at Post 390. This is a dish that uses products from a variety of farmers and craftsmen that we have built relationships with through our Farm to Post Dinner Series.
The Eliot Bridge Enclosure menu will be rooted in this same vein using locally sourced products, seasonally inspired dishes and regional New England flavors.
CB: What process do you follow while planning the menu for an event this big?
ND: Cooking for so many people out of a tent next to the river has lots of problems to sort out before we write the menu.
First, the sous chefs and I get together and start to brainstorm. “Who are our guests? Which ingredients are going to be the most flavorful at this time of year? What sort of food will reflect the festive atmosphere of the event?” Usually I start with a list of produce we want to highlight. Then we look at the physical obstacles of working in a tent, what equipment we need to pull off the menu, and how much labor we need to make it happen. Then come the lists… prep lists, order guides, pack lists, final check lists, etc.
The key is to be as organized as possible.
CB: What would you say is the biggest challenge while catering for such a huge event?
ND: It’s hard to find enough help! We are very busy in the restaurant this time of year and it can be a challenge finding enough time and people to get everything done without getting totally burned out. We have pulled a talented team together for this year which is great because last year I didn’t sleep for three days!
CB: Is there a specific theme you will be following this year?
ND: Our restaurant has two floors -- upstairs is a little more formal and a little more traditional while the downstairs is modeled as an Urban Tavern. The food in the Tavern is casual and fun. When we get a craving to learn how to make Chinese street food, for example, it ends up on the menu there. We like to work with charcuterie and whole animal butchery and those things fit the Tavern as well. The theme of seasonal and regional still come through but we keep things pretty laid back and comfortable.
The Head of the Charles Regatta has a festival type of atmosphere and our Tavern style really fits well as the theme of our tents.
CB: Is there any specific system you will be following for the transportation and logistics?
ND: Our team has been working for months to make sure that everything is well thought out before the actual weekend. We have a big refrigerated truck to use as transportation and it doubles as a walk-in refrigerator during the day. We use the restaurant – which is just a few miles away - as a home base/commissary kitchen. Once the rowers and spectators head home for the night, we take inventory, decide what is needed for the next day and assess how we are doing, making adjustments as we go.
CB: What other events have you hosted in the past and how do they rank alongside the Eliot Bridge Enclosure?
ND: Just this summer we hosted a large dinner at Smolak Farm in North Andover – that, too, was under a tent! And also this summer we hosted a pop up dinner on a rooftop in Seattle for several hundred guests.
We hosted the Eliot Bridge Enclosure for the first time last year and it was crazy! It’s definitely the largest off-site event we have ever done. We learned so much from last year and are looking forward to the challenge again this year. The weather looks like it’s going to be beautiful (last year it poured) and it’s always an adventure bringing the restaurant on the road.
I’m confident this year’s tent will be one of the best on the river.
Post 390 - 406 Stuart St., Boston, 617.399.0015, post390restaurant.com
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Find out more about the Eliot Bridge Enclosure here.